The word tend refers to regularly or frequently behavior in a particular way or have a certain characteristic. Every individual has certain habits and rituals that become part of a daily routine. Unfortunately, no matter how consistent you may be, everyone breaks from these patterns. For a Christian, there are spiritual disciplines that should become part of your daily schedule. While sometimes you may skip Bible Study or prayer, hopefully this trend is few and far between.
I am the Vine; you are the branches. Whoever lives in Me and I in him bears much (abundant) fruit. However, apart from Me [cut off from vital union with Me] you can do nothing. 6 If a person does not dwell in Me, he is thrown out like a [broken-off] branch, and withers; such branches are gathered up and thrown into the fire, and they are burned. 7 If you live in Me [abide vitally united to Me] and My words remain in you and continue to live in your hearts, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you, John 15:5-7.
The lyrics of Emily Rose’ song Tend are based upon Jesus’ words in the passage above. Jesus uses an analogy where God is a gardener and Jesus is the vine, the source of all life on earth. God prunes areas of our lives that are dormant or death. Pruning is designed to stimulate growth. Perhaps, Tend is all about staying connected with Jesus. Any other decision will result in curses in the form of hardship and pain. Enjoy today’s song.
Behind the scenes, ungodly beliefs and self fulfilled prophecies lurk within human minds. Whispers of “you’re not good enough, you’ll never amount to anything or everybody else is doing it,” play like a commercial in your thought life. Depending upon how you deal with these distractions, you might blame the Devil for your current ordeal. However, whenever individuals lose confidence, circumstances are prime for bad decisions to be conceived. When common sense is ignored, consequences of poor choices come to the forefront.
And the Lord said to Cain, Why are you angry? And why do you look sad and depressed and dejected? 7 If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin crouches at your door; its desire is for you, but you must master it, Genesis 4:6-7.
Take the first child born on earth. Cain followed in his father’s footsteps as a farmer. However, as the curse in Genesis 3:17 commenced, the earth’s soil turned from fertile ground into an arid desert. Subsequently, as his younger brother Abel prospered as a shepherd, envy and jealousy began to consume Cain’s soul. This dire situation caused God to intervene, warning Cain of the sin crouching at the door of his heart. Unfortunately, the Lord was too late as Cain already made up him mind. It was only a matter of time before Cain’s thoughts were acted upon.
Let no one say when he is tempted, I am tempted from God; for God is incapable of being tempted by [what is] evil and He Himself tempts no one. 14 But every person is tempted when he is drawn away, enticed and baited by his own evil desire (lust, passions). 15 Then the evil desire, when it has conceived, gives birth to sin, and sin, when it is fully matured, brings forth death, James 1:13-15.
The earthly brother of Jesus makes sure God is not one to blame for temptation. Rather, those who give into temptation slowly ponder their options before finally taking steps toward the dark side. Whether it’s a second glance, a season of idleness or lustful passions that you can’t hold back any further, when sin is conceived it fills your minds until you finally give into a variety of fantasies. In the end, the only way to escape temptation, 1 Corinthians 10:13, is by purging all reminders of your past sins so that you find the way out that God provides.
A few weeks ago I got together with an old friend from church. After catching up on what’s going on, our conversation turned toward a common theory. While sharing strange experiences from our former church, each of us came to the conclusion that this property was cursed. Although this may seem strange to many of you, this is consistent with the words of the Old Testament. Prior to being expelled from the Garden of Eden, God places a curse upon men and women, one that includes cursing the ground.
And to Adam He said, Because you have listened and given heed to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, saying, You shall not eat of it, the ground is under a curse because of you; in sorrow and toil shall you eat [of the fruits] of it all the days of your life. 18 Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth for you, and you shall eat the plants of the field. 19 In the sweat of your face shall you eat bread until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you shall return, Genesis 3:17-19.
As I drive to work each day, I pass by a portion of the debris path from a recent tornado. Spawned by the remnants of tropical storm Isaias, this particular tornado stayed on the ground for over 29 miles. My view of this destruction is a once thriving corn field. While portions of this property remain untouched, a large section of the corn is completely flattened. Four power lines across the street were also leveled before being repaired. Perhaps, this too is a casualty of the curse mentioned in the Bible.
But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me for twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief [of the celestial] princes, came to help me, for I remained there with the kings of Persia. 14 Now I have come to make you understand what is to befall your people in the latter days, for the vision is for [many] days yet to come, Daniel 10:13-14.
Beside the curses placed upon Adam and Eve, there are also powers of darkness that control specific cities, countries, and regions. In the passage above, Daniel refers to a demonic presence called the prince of Persia. While studying a book on spiritual mapping in America, similar places exist in the United States today. While you probably won’t hear about this, the apostle Paul is clear about spiritual forces of evil, Ephesians 6:12. The best way to overcome curses is by arming yourself with the armor of God daily, 1 Thessalonians 5:8.
The Knights Templar was a by product of the crusades during the Middle Ages. While Christians and Moslems fought for control of the city of Jerusalem, a French knight named Hugues de Pavens established the order of the Knights Templar in 1118. During the 12th century, the Knights Templar reached their peak, serving as monks and keepers of historical church artifacts. The demise of the Knights Templar occurred on Friday the 13th, in October of 1307.
The Lord shall send you curses, confusion, and rebuke in every enterprise to which you set your hand, until you are destroyed, perishing quickly because of the evil of your doings by which you have forsaken me [Moses and God as one], Deuteronomy 28:20.
This was a culmination of the extreme measures taken by King Philip IV of France to hunt down, imprison, torture, and execute the leaders of the Knights Templar. This plan was set in motion with Pope Clement V’s backing and support. Months prior to this fateful night, secret documents had been sent by couriers throughout France. These papers included lurid details, whispers of black magic and accusations of scandalous sexual rituals. While being burned at the stake, Roger de Flor, the leader of the Knights Templar, cursed King Philip and Pope Clement.
For he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer, Romans 13:4.
According to eyewitnesses of De Flor’s death, Roger claimed that both men would die within the next year. The Pope died of a severe illness a few months later. Meanwhile, King Philip suffered a stroke while riding a horse several months later, dying shortly afterward. The fulfillment of Roger de Flor’s curse on Friday the 13th is believed to be the origin for this scary night. Today, superstitious people consider Friday the 13th to be unlucky. Yet, curses are real, detailed in the Bible, so make sure you listen carefully to God’s commands, Deuteronomy 28:1-2. Those who do will find blessings; not curses.
It’s rare that you see kindness and severity in the same sentence. These opposing terms highlight elements of God’s nature. According to the apostle Paul, you should take note and appreciate both aspects of God’s personality. While God can demonstrate affection, concern and warmth, this is only one side of the picture. When commands, decrees and expectations aren’t met, God’s wrath is displayed through curses, loss and rebukes.
Then note and appreciate the gracious kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s gracious kindness to you—provided you continue in His grace and abide in His kindness; otherwise you too will be cut off (pruned away), Romans 11:22.
In the second half of the passage above, the apostle Paul adds a spiritual disclaimer. God’s grace and kindness is dependent upon how you exercise your free will. Those who abide in the fruits of the Spirit, Galatians 5:22-23, enjoy and partake in fellowship with God. However, if you indulge your sinful nature, the severity of God can be unleashed upon disobedient souls. When you consider the pros and cons, a complete picture of God comes into view.
[So] if we say we are partakers together and enjoy fellowship with Him when we live and move and are walking about in darkness, we are [both] speaking falsely and do not live and practice the Truth [which the Gospel presents]. 7 But if we [really] are living and walking in the Light, as He [Himself] is in the Light, we have [true, unbroken] fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses (removes) us from all sin and guilt [keeps us cleansed from sin in all its forms and manifestations], 1 John 1:6-7.
The disciple whom Jesus loved uses an analogy to paint his own picture of God’s true nature. Comparing a relationship with God to taking a walk, you have one of two options. According to John, each choice either represents light or darkness. Decisions inspired by the Holy Spirit result in blessings. On the other hand, poor choices influenced by your sinful nature bring spiritual darkness. The more you abide in Jesus, the clearer human minds become, able to envision a complete picture of God.
When you read the Old Testament, certain sections are clear and concise. God’s nature is often revealed by using specific commands to illustrate the importance of obedience. Those who follow the Lord are blessed and those who fail to follow God’s directions are cursed. There is no halfway, it’s either all or nothing.
Now there dwelt an old prophet in Bethel; and his sons came and told him all that the man of God had done that day in Bethel; the words which he had spoken to the king they told also to their father. 12 Their father asked them, Which way did he go? For his sons had seen which way the man of God who came from Judah had gone. 13 He said to his sons, Saddle the donkey for me. So they saddled the donkey and he rode on it, 1 King 13:11-13.
In the passage above and below, a prophet of the Lord is fooled by a lie. Apparently, this liar was paid off by King Jeroboam, persuaded to prophecize good and positive messages to enhance his reign. When news of a miracle performed by a visiting prophet from Judah reach this wayward man, he was desperate to meet him. When his own sons were unsuccessful, this discredited prophet makes up an encounter with an angel to change his mind.
He said, I may not return with you or go in with you, neither will I eat bread or drink water with you in this place. 17 For I was told by the word of the Lord, You shall not eat bread or drink water there or return by the way that you came. 18 He answered, I am a prophet also, as you are. And an angel spoke to me by the word of the Lord, saying, Bring him back with you to your house, that he may eat bread and drink water. But he lied to him. 19 So the man from Judah went back with him and ate and drank water in his house, 1 Kings 13:16-19.
Taking this man at his word, this young prophet disobeys God by staying an extra day in this corrupt land. Although a loving God would forgive modern transgressions, God’s command was to not eat or drink another meal before leaving. While this doesn’t seem fair, obedience matters to God. Thus, while bending the rules on this occasion seemed okay, a lion was sent to kill this prophet on his way back home to Judah.
And after the prophet of the house had eaten bread and drunk, he saddled the donkey for the man he had brought back. 24 And when he had gone, a lion met him by the road and slew him, and his corpse was cast in the way, and the donkey stood by it; the lion also stood by the corpse. 25 And behold, men passed by and saw the corpse thrown in the road, and the lion standing by the corpse, and they came and told it in the city where the old prophet dwelt. 26 When the prophet who brought him back from the way heard of it, he said, It is the man of God who was disobedient to the word of the Lord; therefore the Lord has given him to the lion, which has torn him and slain him, according to the word of the Lord which He spoke to him, 1 Kings 13:23-26.
This story is mentioned in the Bible to serve as a remainder that obedience matters. Making up the rules as you go isn’t an option for a servant of God. While those outside the church may get away with telling a lie from time to time, you can’t fool God as Paul suggests in Galatians 6:7-8. You reap what you sow. Although you probably won’t cross paths with a lion, make sure you’re sowing seeds of encouragement rather than lies of deceit.
While farmers pray for rain each summer to nurture freshly planted crops, vacationers hope for clear sunny skies until nightfall. Meanwhile, those who reside in the path of previous hurricanes or tornado alley, plead with God to save their home, lives and town. From God’s perspective, every day prayers lifted up to heaven often contradict one another. Subsequently, rain sent from heaven will bless some while serving as a curse to others.
Yet He did not leave Himself without some witness [as evidence of Himself], in that He kept constantly doing good things and showing you kindness, and giving you rains from heaven and productive seasons, filling your hearts with food and happiness,” Acts 14:17.
After healing a man crippled from birth, eyewitnesses of this miracle exalted Paul and Barnabas to god-like status. Instead of receiving this praise, Paul reveals the source of his power, pointing to heaven. Evidence of God’s presence can be seen daily if you are watching closely. Unfortunately, many have become oblivious, too focused on their own lives to thank the Lord for rains sent from heaven.
Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above; it comes down from the Father of lights [the Creator and Sustainer of the heavens], in whom there is no variation [no rising or setting] or shadow cast by His turning [for He is perfect and never changes]. 18 It was of His own will that He gave us birth [as His children] by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits of His creatures [a prime example of what He created to be set apart to Himself—sanctified, made holy for His divine purposes], James 1:17-18.
An earthly brother came to realize this fact following Jesus’ resurrection. Perhaps, the passage above is a culmination of a private conversation prior to Jesus ascending into heaven. If only negative people who try to bring you down would grasp the concept that every perfect gift comes from above. Embracing this mindset would transform families, neighborhoods and workplaces. Yet, for now, the best way to keep this message alive is by pointing to rain sent from heaven.
A first century doctor makes an interesting observation about the Holy Spirit. While initially described as the Holy Ghost in the original King James version of the Bible, Luke describes the feeling and sense new believers experienced following their baptism. Despite being an invisible force, those who walked with God daily received an inner peace in the form of comfort and encouragement. When I read the passage below for the first time, I pondered “what does it mean to walk in the comfort and encouragement of the Holy Spirit?”
So the church throughout Judea and Galilee and Samaria enjoyed peace [without persecution], being built up [in wisdom, virtue, and faith]; and walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort and encouragement of the Holy Spirit, it continued to grow [in numbers], Acts 9:31.
The term walking with God is found 62 times in the Bible. One of the first references of this phrase occurs in the passage below, a command from God to Abram to activate his faith by arising and walking to fulfill God’s calling. While Adam and Eve walked and talked with God in the Garden of Eden, Genesis 5:22 mentions that Enoch walked faithfully with God. Subsequently, Enoch was spared death, taken up into heaven like Elijah. Perhaps, this shines light on the comfort and encouragement of the Holy Spirit.
Arise, walk (make a thorough reconnaissance) around in the land, through its length and its width, for I will give it to you.” 18 Then Abram broke camp and moved his tent, and came and settled by the [grove of the great] terebinths (oak trees) of Mamre [the Amorite], which are in Hebron, and there he built an altar to [honor] the Lord, Genesis 13:17-18.
The comfort and encouragement of the Holy Spirit could also originate from teachings from Moses. Deuteronomy 28 lists acts that result in blessings and curses from God. The blessing list lasts 14 verses, followed by 54 verses on curses due to acts of disobedience. Common sense tells me that if you are walking with God or as the apostle Paul puts it in Galatians 5:25, keeping in step with the Holy Spirit, blessings will abound. Moses states in Deuteronomy 28:2 that” all these blessings will come upon you and overtake you if you pay attention to the voice of the Lord your God.” Therefore, as individuals walk with God, blessings will bring comfort and encouragement to ensure believers that you are on the right track.
The book of Deuteronomy serves as a repetition of God’s laws. Essentially Deuteronomy is a second statement of Mosaic Law. The need for human beings to remember suggests that individuals tend to forget. Thus, Moses is inspired by God to repeat what was written in previous books to highlight what God fearing Jews should remember and obey.
God fed you manna in the wilderness, [a substance] which your fathers did not know, so that He might humble you [by dependence on Him] and that He might test you, to do good [things] for you at the end. 17 Otherwise, you may say in your heart, ‘My power and the strength of my hand made me this wealth, Deuteronomy 8:16-17.
Chapter 8 serves as a brief summary of God’s faithfulness to his people while in the wilderness. When the people were hungry, manna from heaven appeared to eat. After individuals became tired of bread, the Lord sent quail as well to eat. However, murmurs began to spread among the camp that some hearts were considering to trust in their own strength rather than rely solely on God. This led Moses to draw a line in the sand, “it’s your choice to remember or forget.”
18 But you shall remember [with profound respect] the Lord your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth, that He may confirm His covenant which He swore (solemnly promised) to your fathers, as it is this day. 19 And it shall come about if you ever forget the Lord your God and follow other gods and serve them and worship them, I testify against you today that you will most certainly perish, Deuteronomy 8:18-19.
Each decision that you make has eternal consequences. Remembering God through obedience results in blessings, seen and unseen. On the other hand, those who slowly forget God will be punished via a series of curses meant to drive you back into the merciful hands of God. Unfortunately, the longer you forget God, the harder it becomes to return. For those who do, the spiritual baggage accrued takes months and even years to sort through. In view of this, save yourself the heartache by remembering and obeying God’s Word daily.
Censure, denunciation and reproof are examples of criticism. Whenever condemnation comes your way, it’s not pleasant. Some of the accusations made against you may not be credible. Yet, how you respond to criticism will dictate how others will react to you.
A man’s pride and sense of self-importance will bring him down, but he who has a humble spirit will obtain honor, Proverbs 29:23.
After a series of severe tribulations, three of Job’s friends jumped to the same conclusion. Using Old Testament logic, these men associated bad things as a curse from God. In their eyes, Job must have done something wrong to have all of his children die and become inflicted with boils. The book of Job is filled with criticism followed by Job’s response.
Whoever is partner with a thief hates his own life; He hears the curse [when swearing an oath to testify], but discloses nothing [and commits perjury by omission]. The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in and puts his confidence in the Lord will be exalted and safe, Proverbs 29:25.
King Solomon provides advice to individuals facing the hot seat known as criticism. When attacked, human nature relies on pride to defend yourself. Instead of allowing a knee jerk response to come out of your mouth, Solomon encourages individuals to embrace rebukes. Everyone has room for improvement, subtle imperfections that need to be worked out. Thus, the next time you receive critical comments, ask the Lord how these words can be used to benefit you in the future.